In September of 2007 Jon Linton began gathering imagery to document the homeless on the streets of Phoenix Arizona. That Fall he had volunteered both time and resources at a local homeless shelter to better understand the circumstance and plight of those without a place to call home. His project took shape, when the first man he photographed wept as he asked him his name. “You have no idea how long it has been since someone cared to ask my name”, he stated.
Through the course of this journey Jon has met many souls that through a bad set of circumstance, addiction or mental illness find themselves without a door to walk through at day’s end. They had fallen into what some had referred to as an “Invisible World". The I Have a Name Project is a humble attempt to bring dignity and humanity to those less fortunate among us.
Jon encourages you to go out and help another in need. He says your soul will thank you and reminds you to always practice compassion with these 10 tips that will help you better understand how you can help someone in need.
What You Can Do to Help the Homeless
1. Respect the homeless as individuals
Give homeless people the same courtesy and respect you would accord your friends, your family, your employer. Treat them as you would wish to be treated if you needed assistance.
2. Respond with kindness
We can make quite a difference in the lives of the homeless when we respond to them, rather than ignore or dismiss them. Try a kind word and a smile.
3. Develop lists of shelters
Carry a card that lists local shelters so you can hand them out to the homeless. You can find shelters in your phone book.
4. Bring food
It's as simple as taking a few extra sandwiches when you go out. When you pass someone who asks for change, offer him or her something to eat. If you take a lunch, pack a little extra. When you eat at a restaurant, order something to take with you when you leave.
5. Give money
One of the most direct ways to aid the homeless is to give money. Donations to non-profit organizations that serve the homeless go a long way.
6. Donate clothing
Next time you do your spring or fall cleaning, keep an eye out for those clothes that you no longer wear. If these items are in good condition, gather them together and donate them to organizations that provide housing for the homeless.
7. Donate a bag of groceries
Load up a bag full of non-perishable groceries and donate it to a food drive in your area. If your community doesn't have a food drive, organize one. Contact your local soup kitchens, shelters, and homeless societies and ask what kind of food donations they would like.
8. Volunteer at a shelter
Shelters thrive on the work of volunteers, from those who sign people in, to those who serve meals, to others who counsel the homeless on where to get social services. For the homeless, a shelter can be as little as a place to sleep out of the rain or as much as a step forward to self-sufficiency.
9. Volunteer at a soup kitchen
Soup kitchens provide one of the basics of life, nourishing meals for the homeless and other disadvantaged members of the community. Volunteers generally do much of the work, including picking up donations of food, preparing meals, serving it, and cleaning up afterward. To volunteer your services, contact your local soup kitchen, mobile food program, shelter, or religious center.
Get involved in your local community. Help agencies in your area whose policy and initiatives support the goal of ending homelessness.
Do you have suggestions of things people can do to help someone in need? We'd love you to list them below.